Syria and Iran on Trump-Putin talks in Helsinki

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SHAFAQNA – Donald Trump met one-on-one with Russia’s Vladimir Putin behind closed doors on Monday in Helsinki. Both leaders expressed confidence that Russia and the United States were entering a period of better relations and cooperation on global problems. As analysts predicted Syria, Iran and Ukraine was among the topics that Trump and Putin discussed  at their summit in Helsinki on July 16th. Trump and Putin unite in denying any Russian collusion during US elections at key Helsinky summit.

According to NBC news, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a joint news conference Monday after meeting one-on-one behind closed doors for more than two hours at their first major sit-down, then holding a larger session that included officials and other aides.

CNN stated that the leaders will be hoping to reverse the steep decline in relations between the two countries in recent years. There are a number of critical issues — including Crimea, the war in Syria, North Korea, and fraying arms control.

“I think it’s a good start,” Trump told reporters earlier after the private meeting ended, just ahead of a larger session that would include aides to both leaders. “A very good start for everybody.”

Putin landed in Helsinki around 6 a.m. ET, slightly later than expected, and made his way to the presidential palace. Trump arrived for the meeting a few minutes later. Trump and Putin sat down for face-to-face.

The items up for discussion, Trump had said as he sat next to Putin in matching chairs at Finland’s presidential palace before the first meeting, included trade, military issues, the presidents’ relationships with their “mutual friend” Chinese President Xi Jinping and nuclear nonproliferation.

“Getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump said. “I think the world wants to see us get along, we are the two great nuclear powers, we have 90 percent of the nuclear … that is a negative force.”

But he said nothing of the two issues that have most concerned European leaders and members of Congress: Putin’s incursions into Ukraine and his meddling with elections in democratic nations, including the 2016 U.S. election that made Trump president.

On two of the most pressing matters, Russia’s cyberattacks against the U.S. and Putin’s incursions into Ukraine, Trump has signaled repeatedly that he is not nearly as worried about them as are officials in his own administration, Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and much of the American public.

Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and continues to support Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine, aggression that the West has condemned. Trump did not address the matter publicly, either before or after the meetings on Monday, but  Putin was asked whether his American counterpart had made any concessions.

A week ago, New Yorker reported that the Emirati leader told the American that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, might be interested in resolving the conflict in Syria in exchange for the lifting of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Current and former U.S. officials said that bin Zayed, known as M.B.Z., was not the only leader in the region who favored rapprochement between the former Cold War adversaries.

While America’s closest allies in Europe viewed with a sense of dread Trump’s interest in partnering with Putin, three countries that enjoyed unparallelled influence with the incoming Administration—Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E.—privately embracedthegoal.

Officials from the three countries have repeatedly encouraged their American counterparts to consider ending the Ukraine-related sanctions in return for Putin’s help in removing Iranian forces from Syria.

Experts say that such a deal would be unworkable, even if Trump were interested. They say Putin has neither the interest nor the ability to pressure Iranian forces to leave Syria. Administration officials have said that Syria and Ukraine will be among the topics that Trump and Putin will discuss at their summit in Helsinki on July 16th.

According to Haaretz, Trump said he had stressed the importance of putting pressure on Iran, an ally of Russia, while Putin said he was aware of U.S. opposition to the international nuclear agreement on Iran, which Russian supports.

Putin made a point of noting that the two leaders still disagree strongly on the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from in May, and which the Russian president hailed as a great success.

Putin said that the war in Syria could be “the first showcase example of the successful joint work” between the two countries. But with Russia supporting the Assad regime in Syria, and the United States backing a rebel faction that opposes the government, it is not clear what room there is for cooperation there, NYtimes reported.

There had originally been no real set agenda for the hastily arranged power chats, which were announced less than three weeks ago and for which Trump has declined to elaborate on any goals beyond simply meeting with Putin and raising the issues at hand.

Before their meetings, Trump tried to set the tone early — and Russia tried to match it — on Twitter “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump wrote.

some American experts on Russia are deeply concerned that gives Putin, who has been in power in Moscow for the last 18 years, the upper hand over Trump.

“He knows the details of these issues way better than Trump, or indeed almost any other head of state in the world,” Michael McFaul, who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Moscow, wrote in The Washington Post. “That’s why the extended one-on-one meeting with Trump planned for the summit gives Putin a huge advantage.”

The two leaders vowed to improve relations between their countries, but offered no specific areas where they could agree. Even so, the meeting will be closely scrutinized for signs of whether Mr. Trump is friendlier to his Russian counterpart than he had been to NATO leaders.

Both leaders expressed confidence that Russia and the United States were entering a period of better relations and cooperation on global problems, but they did not cite any examples, and their news conference exposed continued areas of disagreement. Concerns about the Russian leader’s acumen, and the possibility of Trump’s faltering cross the political spectrum.

Luke Coffey, director of the foreign policy center at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, wrote that Trump has an opportunity to stand strong with NATO and “press Putin” on Ukraine, Moscow’s backing of the regimes in Iran and Syria and attacks on elections in democratic nations.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona tweeted that the president’s press conference was “shameful”, adding that he never thought he’d see a day when the president “would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression”, ABS reported.

“President Trump should go into this summit with his eyes wide open,” Coffey wrote. “Since coming to power in 1999, Putin has never shown that he can be a trusted partner of the United States. At almost every opportunity, he has pursued policies that undermine America’s national interests and those of its closest partners”.

According to Independent, both Democrats and Republicans lambaste Mr Trump as ‘weak’ as he declines to defend US intelligence reports that Moscow sought to interfere in 2016 vote.

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